Australian Institute of Criminology

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Brisbane

Sample

In 2011–12, 1,348 detainees were interviewed at the Brisbane police watchhouse. The average age of detainees was 32 years and 87 percent of detainees were male. On average, male detainees were one year older than female detainees (32 cf 31 years; see Table 33).

From 2011 to 2012, there was a four percent increase in the number of detainees interviewed (n=662 cf n=686). The number of detainees interviewed in 2011–12 was consistent with the number interviewed in 2009–10. However, the number of detainees interviewed in 2009–10 represented a decrease when compared with earlier years. The proportion of males and females surveyed was consistent from 2011 to 2012 and comparable with earlier years.

From 2011 to 2012, the average age of Brisbane detainees remained constant at 32 years, as did the average age of female and male detainees at 31 years and 32 years respectively. In 2011–12, the average age of detainees was slightly lower than in 2009–10 (33 years).

Offending

In 2011–12, Brisbane detainees were arrested and detained for a total of 4,176 charges. Consistent with previous years, the average number of charges per detainee was three. In 2011–12, charges for property offences were most commonly recorded, comprising 26 percent of total charges. This was followed by charges for violent offences (19%), breach offences (18%), drug offences (14%), traffic offences (6%), disorder offences (5%) and drink driving offences (1%). A further 12 percent of charges were recorded as ‘other offences’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 34).

To facilitate comparison between detainees, each detainee is categorised by the most serious offence for which they are being held under charge at the time of interview. In 2011–12, 32 percent of Brisbane detainees were classified as breach offenders (an increase of 8 percentage points from 2009–10), 27 percent were violent offenders, 22 percent were property offenders, nine percent were drug offenders, four percent were disorder offenders, three percent were traffic offenders and two percent were drink driving offenders. A further one percent was recorded as ‘other offenders’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 34).

From 2011 to 2012, there were no notable changes in the proportions of most serious offence types. There were no substantial changes in the offence categories when compared with earlier years.

In 2011–12, different patterns of offending were observed between males and females. Based on most serious offence categories, one in three male detainees was in custody for a breach offence (32%), followed by violent (28%), property (21%) and drug offences (9%). Female detainees were most often categorised as breach offenders (34%), followed by property (33%), violent (21%) and drug offenders (8%).

Prior criminal justice contact

In 2011–12, for almost half of all Brisbane detainees, the current episode of contact with the police was not an isolated incident—47 percent had been charged on at least one separate occasion in the previous 12 months (see Table 35). The percentage of detainees reporting a prior history of police contact dropped marginally from previous years (down three percentage points from 2009–10). Male detainees were slightly more likely than female detainees to have been charged on a separate occasion in the previous 12 months (47% cf 44%).

In 2011–12, approximately one in four Brisbane detainees (27%) reported having spent time in prison in the previous 12 months, with males being more likely than females to report a recent prison history (28% cf 23%; see Table 35). This rate is higher than that observed in 2009–10 (males 22%; females 14%). From 2011 to 2012, there was an 18 percent increase in the number of female detainees who reported a recent prison history (13% cf 31%).

Education, housing and employment

In 2011–12, Year 10 was the highest level of education attained for 40 percent of Brisbane detainees (see Table 36); a three percent decrease since 2009–10 (43%). A slightly higher percentage of detainees (43%) had attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification—results that are generally consistent between male and female detainees. Male detainees were more likely to have attained Year 10 as their highest education level than female detainees (40% cf 35%), whereas females were more likely than males to have attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification (47% cf 42%).

By gender, the most notable change between 2011 and 2012 for male detainees was a six percentage point decrease in reporting TAFE as the highest level of education achieved (22% cf 28%). From 2011 to 2012, for female detainees, the most notable change was a five percentage point increase in completion of Year 11 or 12 at high school (15% cf 20%). However, when 2011–12 data were compared with previous years, the levels of education of detainees, for both males and females, did not substantially differ.

The majority of Brisbane detainees reported residing in stable accommodation, which was owned or rented, either from a private owner or social housing, by them (45%) or someone else (37%). A small number of detainees (10%) reported having no fixed address or living in emergency accommodation (see Table 36), which represented a small increase from 2009–10 (8%). There were no other notable differences in the housing situation of detainees compared with previous collection periods.

Over a quarter of detainees (28%) reported being in full-time employment at the time of their arrest, while 107 detainees (8%) reported being in part-time employment. Almost two-thirds of detainees (64%) were not working at the time of their arrest and of these:

  • 29 percent were looking for work (n=390);
  • 20 percent were not looking for work (n=271);
  • 10 percent were not working either because they were on leave from work or due to illness, disability or the seasonal nature of their employment (n=138);
  • three percent were retired or studying (n=40); and
  • two percent were full-time homemakers (n=29).

From 2011 to 2012, the pattern of employment among detainees remained relatively constant. The 2011–12 pattern of employment among detainees is comparable with previous years.

Examining employment by gender, there were a number of differences. Male detainees were more likely to be employed on a full-time or part-time basis (38%), compared with female detainees (18%). Female detainees were more likely than male detainees to be unemployed and not looking for work (28% cf 19%) or not working because of their role as a full-time homemaker (14% cf 0%; see Table 36). Caution should be taken when interpreting gender comparisons due to the overrepresentation of males in the sample.

Drug use

Urinalysis screening was conducted for five drug classes—amphetamines, benzodiazepine, cannabis, cocaine and opiates—and secondary screening tests were conducted for the opiate pharmacotherapy substances methadone and buprenorphine. In addition, confirmatory analysis was conducted for samples testing positive to amphetamines and opiates (not including pharmacotherapies). Opiates were then classified as either heroin or other opiates (including prescription opiates). Amphetamines were classified as methamphetamine, MDMA, or other amphetamines (including prescription amphetamines). In the 2011–12 collection period, the rate of urine collection was reduced compared with earlier collection periods; urine samples were collected for all four data collection quarters in 2011 and two out of the four data collection quarters in 2012.

Of the 977 detainees who provided a urine sample, 70 percent tested positive to at least one drug type (see Table 37). This is higher than the percentage of detainees who tested positive to any drug in previous years. In 2011–12, the most commonly detected drug in Brisbane was cannabis (44%), followed by benzodiazepines (27%), opiates (26%; including 11% heroin, 3% methadone and 15% buprenorphine—detainees can test positive to more than one substance) and methamphetamine (26%). Only seven detainees tested positive to cocaine (1%).

In 2011–12, female detainees were more likely than males to test positive to amphetamines (35% cf 25%), opiates (39% cf 24%) and benzodiazepines (43% cf 24%), whereas male detainees were more likely than females to test positive to cannabis (46% cf 33%).

From 2011 to 2012, urinalysis test positive results for any drug increased by four percentage points (69% cf 73%), but variations were noted for several categories of drug. There was a seven percentage point increase in the detection of amphetamines (24% cf 31%), a four percentage point decrease in opiates (27% cf 23%), a two percentage point decrease in cannabis use (45% cf 43%) and a two percentage point increase in benzodiazepine use (26% cf 28% in 2012).

Self-reported alcohol use

Alcohol use among detainees cannot be reliably tested using urinalysis. Instead, the DUMA survey relies on a range of questions regarding recent and lifetime alcohol use, including whether the detainee had consumed alcohol in the 48 hours prior to their arrest. In 2011–12, 41 percent of Brisbane detainees reported drinking in the 48 hours prior to arrest (see Table 38). This percentage was consistent with earlier years. Male detainees were substantially more likely than females to report drinking alcohol in the 48 hours prior to arrest (42% cf 31%; see Table 38). Rates of recent alcohol consumption were relatively stable for male and female detainees when compared with 2009–10.

Alcohol consumption patterns

In 2011–12, 74 percent of detainees reported consuming at least one alcoholic drink in the 30 days prior to their arrest (see Table 38). On the last occasion of drinking, 30 percent of these detainees had consumed beer only, 10 percent had consumed wine only and 41 percent had consumed spirits only, with the remaining 18 percent having consumed at least two types of alcohol (referred to in the discussion below as mixed drinks) on the last occasion.

By quantity, the average number of standard drinks consumed on the last occasion of drinking was 22, an increase in the reported average number of drinks since 2009–10 (13 standard drinks). Beer-only drinkers consumed on average 10 standard drinks, while wine-only drinkers consumed on average 26 standard drinks and spirit-only drinkers consumed on average 11 standard drinks on the last occasion of drinking. Those who mixed drinks tended to have the highest consumption rate, at 36 standard drinks on average (up from an average of 21 standard drinks in 2009–10). Although these figures are high, it is important to note that the length of time spent drinking on the last occasion would have varied from person to person and in some cases would have involved drinking sessions that lasted more than one day.

In 2011–12, differences between genders were seen in the type of alcohol consumed most recently by those who had consumed alcohol in the 30 days prior to interview. Male detainees were more likely than female detainees to have most recently consumed beer only (32% cf 12%), while female detainees were more likely than male detainees to have most recently consumed spirits only (55% cf 40%) or wine only (17% cf 9%). The quantity of alcohol consumed on the last occasion was, on average, higher among males than females across all alcohol types (see Table 38).

Drug and alcohol treatment and mental health

In 2011–12, 85 Brisbane detainees reported that they were in drug or alcohol treatment at the time of their arrest. This figure represents approximately nine percent of those who had used alcohol or drugs in the previous 12 months and is one percentage point lower than in 2009–10 (10%). Treatment options included support groups, counselling and pharmacotherapy. A further 427 detainees (43%) had previously been in a treatment program but were no longer in treatment at the time of their arrest. Of detainees currently in treatment, 20 percent (n=17) had been referred by the courts or as a result of a legal order. The remaining 80 percent (n=68) were either self-referred or referred by a health practitioner (see Table 39). Treatment access increased from 2011 to 2012 (7% cf 10%). However, it did not differ substantially from the rates reported in previous years.

Detainees were asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or any other mental health-related issue (ie not just in the previous 12 months). In 2011–12, 474 Brisbane detainees (37%) reported having been diagnosed with a mental health-related issue (see Table 40), which was six percentage points lower than in 2009–10 (43%). Female detainees were more likely than males to report having been diagnosed with a mental health-related issue (47% cf 35%). From 2011 to 2012, rates of diagnosis increased slightly (33% cf 40%), but did not substantially differ from rates observed in previous collection periods.

Linking drugs and crime

The link between drugs and crime is measured in the DUMA study using a range of indicators, including the extent to which drug use varies between offenders of different offence types and the extent to which an offender reports that drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor in their most recent offending.

Of the 978 detainees who provided a urine sample, 70 percent tested positive to at least one drug type. The prevalence of recent drug use varied by most serious offence type, with breach offenders most likely to test positive to at least one drug type (79%; n=249). Test positive rates for other offence classifications were:

  • 74 percent for property offenders (n=166);
  • 75 percent for drug offenders (n=60);
  • 63 percent for traffic offenders (n=17);
  • 60 percent for drink driving offenders (n=12);
  • 69 percent for disorder offenders (n=25); and
  • 58 percent for violent offenders (n=156).

Caution should be exercised when making comparisons between offending categories and across collection periods due to the presence of small cell sizes. In addition, in 2012, substantial changes were made to the DUMA methodology in regards to urine collection limiting comparability of findings with previous collection periods.

While the prevalence of drug use varied somewhat between detainees depending on their offence, the pattern of use by drug type was relatively consistent across detainees who had tested positive to any drug. In 2011–12, across all offender categories, the most commonly detected drug was cannabis (see Table 41).

DUMA detainees are asked specific questions to identify the relationship between substance use and the commission of the offence(s) for which they are held in custody at the time of interview. Half of all Brisbane detainees (51%) reported that substance use contributed to their offending. By most serious offence, those detained on a drink driving offence had the highest level of combined drug/alcohol attribution (67%; n=20). Proportionally, this was followed by:

  • 61 percent for breach offenders (n=265);
  • 57 percent for disorder offenders (n=28);
  • 53 percent for drug offenders (n=63);
  • 48 percent for violent offenders (n=173);
  • 43 percent for property offenders (n=130); and
  • 33 percent for traffic offenders (n=13).

Alcohol was more likely than drug use to be identified as a contributing factor for violent, drink driving, traffic and disorder offenders, while drug use was more likely than alcohol to be identified by property, drug and breach offenders (see Table 41).

Table 33 Brisbane DUMA sample, by age and gender, 2011–12
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Age (yrs)
18–20 134 11 17 10 151 11
21–25 249 21 34 19 283 21
26–30 227 19 41 23 268 20
31–35 194 17 38 21 232 17
36+ 366 31 48 27 414 31
Total 1,170 178 1,348
Min/max age 18/80 18/56 18/80
Mean age (median) 32(30) 31(30) 32(30)

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 34 Brisbane DUMA sample, by offence and gender, 2011–12a
Male Female Total
Charges Detainees most serious offence Charges Detainees most serious offence Charges Detainees most serious offence
Charges recorded n % n % n % n % n % n %
Violent 724 20 325 28 70 12 37 21 794 19 362 27
Property 883 25 243 21 202 35 58 33 1,085 26 301 22
Drug 489 14 105 9 82 14 14 8 571 14 119 9
Drink driving 43 1 27 2 4 1 3 2 47 1 30 2
Traffic 219 6 36 3 26 4 3 2 245 6 39 3
Disorder 190 5 46 4 13 2 3 2 203 5 49 4
Breach 631 18 378 32 109 19 60 34 740 18 438 32
Other 413 11 10 1 78 13 0 0 491 12 10 1
Total 3,592 1,170 584 178 4,176 1,348

a: Sample size may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 35 Brisbane DUMA sample, by criminal history and gender, 2011–12a
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Prior charge history (past 12 months)
Yes 527 47 73 44 600 47
No 590 53 93 56 683 53
Prior prison history (past 12 months)
Yes 311 28 38 23 349 27
No 817 72 128 77 945 73

a: Sample size may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 36 Brisbane DUMA sample, by education, housing, employment and gender, 2011–12a
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Education
Year 10 or less 472 40 63 35 535 40
Year 11 or 12 204 17 31 17 235 17
TAFE/university not completed 122 10 22 12 144 11
Completed TAFE 290 25 50 28 340 25
Completed university 82 7 12 7 94 7
Total 1,170 178 1,348
Housing
Owned or rented by self 510 44 92 52 602 45
Someone else’s place 441 38 59 33 500 37
Shelter or emergency 28 2 2 1 30 2
Incarceration facility/halfway house 27 2 3 2 30 2
Treatment facility 14 1 2 1 16 1
No fixed residence 95 8 12 7 107 8
Other 55 5 8 4 63 5
Total 1,170 178 1,348
Employment
Full-time 356 30 17 10 373 28
Part-time 92 8 15 8 107 8
Have job but out due to illness/leave/strike/disability/seasonal work 122 10 16 9 138 10
Looking for work 337 29 53 30 390 29
Not looking for work 222 19 49 28 271 20
Full-time homemakers 4 0 25 14 29 2
Retired or studying 37 3 3 2 40 3
Total 1,170 178 1,348

a: Sample size may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 37 Brisbane DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and gender, 2011–12
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Provided urinea
Yes 846 98 133 99 979 98
No 19 2 2 1 21 2
Test results
Cannabis 387 46 44 33 431 44
Cocaine 6 1 1 1 7 1
Amphetaminesb 212 25 46 35 258 26
Methamphetamine 206 24 45 34 251 26
MDMA 6 1 0 0 6 1
Other amphetamines 4 0 1 1 5 1
Opiatesc 205 24 51 38 256 26
Heroin 86 10 23 17 109 11
Methadone 22 3 11 8 33 3
Buprenorphine 123 15 21 16 144 15
Other opiates 68 8 15 11 83 8
Benzodiazepines 206 24 57 43 263 27
Any drug 585 69 100 75 685 70
Any drug other than cannabis 425 50 87 65 512 52
Multiple drugs 302 36 63 47 365 37

a: Percentages have been calculated for the quarters in which urine samples were requested, which in 2011 was all 4 quarters and in 2012 was 2 out of 4 quarters

b: Includes methamphetamine, MDMA and other amphetamines

c: Includes heroin, methadone, buprenorphine and other opiates

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 38 Brisbane DUMA sample, by self-reported alcohol use and gender, 2011–12
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Alcohol use
Past 48 hoursa 490 42 56 31 546 41
Past 30 days 875 75 121 68 996 74
Alcohol type consumed on last drinking occasion
Beer only 283 32 15 12 298 30
Wine only 83 9 21 17 104 10
Spirits only 346 40 67 55 413 41
Mixed drinksb 163 19 18 15 181 18
Male Female Total
n mean (median) n mean (median) n mean (median)
Quantities consumed on last drinking occasion (standard drinks)
Beer only 283 10(6) 15 6(5) 298 10(6)
Wine only 83 28(17) 21 19(15) 104 26(15)
Spirits only 344 12(8) 65 9(5) 409 11(8)
Mixed drinksb 163 37(33) 18 27(25) 181 36(32)

a: Only if consumed alcohol in the past 30 days

b: ‘Mixed drinks’ refers to consuming more than one type of alcohol

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 39 Brisbane DUMA sample, by drug and alcohol treatment and gender, 2011–12a,b
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Treatment
Never been in treatment 419 49 55 41 474 48
Been in, but not currently in treatment 374 44 53 40 427 43
Currently in treatment 60 7 25 19 85 9
Treatment referral of those currently in treatment
Drug court requirement 2 3 0 0 2 2
Court diversion scheme 0 0 0 0 0 0
Police diversion scheme 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other legal order 11 18 4 16 15 18
Otherc 47 78 21 84 68 80

a: Treatment options include detoxification, rehabilitation program/therapeutic community, outpatient/counselling services, support groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous etc), methadone maintenance, naltrexone, buprenorphine and general practitioners

b: Only of those who had used drugs or alcohol in the past 12 months

c: ‘Other’ refers to ‘referral from general practitioner or health professional’ and ‘self-referral’

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 40 Brisbane DUMA sample, by mental health and gender, 2011–12a
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Ever been diagnosed or received treatment for depression, anxiety or any other mental health-related issueb
Yes 396 35 78 47 474 37
No 731 65 88 53 819 63

a: Sample sizes may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

b: Includes developmental, somatoform, dissociative, sexual or gender identity, paraphilia, eating or adjustment disorders

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 41 Brisbane DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and drug–crime attributions by most serious offending, 2011–12a
Violent Property Drug Drink driving Traffic Disorder Breach Other Total
n % n % n % n % n % n % n % n % n %
Urinalysis results
Cannabis 108 40 94 42 36 45 9 45 11 41 17 47 155 49 1 20 431 44
Cocaine 1 0 0 0 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 7 1
Amphetaminesb 57 21 62 28 28 35 4 20 4 15 5 14 98 31 0 0 258 26
Opiatesc 54 20 69 31 13 16 3 15 3 11 5 14 108 34 1 20 256 26
Benzodiazepines 59 22 78 35 19 24 4 20 4 15 9 25 89 28 1 20 263 27
(Any drug) 156 58 166 74 60 75 12 60 17 63 25 69 249 79 1 20 686 70
(Any drug other than cannabis) 107 40 137 61 42 53 8 40 9 33 16 44 193 61 1 20 513 52
(Multiple drugs) 80 30 101 45 27 34 6 30 4 15 10 28 136 43 1 20 365 37
(Total urine samples) 269 224 80 20 27 36 317 5 978
Self-reported drug–crime attributiond
Alcohol 114 31 44 15 26 22 17 57 8 21 24 49 103 24 2 20 338 25
Other drugs 84 23 101 34 50 42 3 10 6 15 6 12 187 43 0 0 437 32
Any attribution 173 48 130 43 63 53 20 67 13 33 28 57 265 61 2 20 694 51
(Total detainees interviewed) 362 301 119 30 39 49 438 10 1,348

a: Sample sizes may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

b: Includes methamphetamine, MDMA and other amphetamines

c: Includes heroin, methadone, buprenorphine and other opiates

d: Missing data excluded from analysis

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Figure 10 Test positive trends, males by drug type, Brisbane, 2002–12

Figure 10 Test positive trends, males by drug type, Brisbane, 2002–12

Note: Data was not collected at this site during quarters 2 and 4, 2012

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Figure 11 Tested positive trends, females by drug type, Brisbane 2002–12

Figure 11 Tested positive trends, females by drug type, Brisbane 2002–12

Note: Data was not collected at this site during quarters 2 and 4, 2012

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]